Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Album: Astronauts, etc. - Mind Out Wandering

Astronauts, etc. - Mind Out Wandering

Astronauts, etc. - I Know

Info: Oakland, California act Astronauts, etc. have featured regularly on the site here since the start of the year with each of the singles from the now released Mind Out Wandering album resonating with me in different ways, all of which were good, so I was quite excited about finally hearing the full release and seeing how everything fit together. With Toro Y Moi keyboardist Anthony Ferraro at the helm and striking out on his own, he has created a collection of songs that at first glance emanate a feeling of happiness through music, but scratching at the surface also reveal another side to proceedings.

Opening with 'If I Run', an almost sad piano intro leads to an inescapably sun-kissed Beach Boys / Doobie Brothers vibe, with subtly light guitar riffs and the first tentative hints of the album's underlying theme. 'Place With You' quickens the pace and for me captures Ferraro's unique vocals at their best, there's a lovely pained breakdown just passed the half-way point underscored by a gentle piano sequence and looped percussion maintaining the tracks thrust to conclusion.

Anthony Ferraro Astronauts etc Mind Out Wandering Album

'No Justice' kicks off a run of previously released singles on the album and is a personal favourite for me, a solid soul sound, mellow and groovy with an incredibly catchy chorus; 'There's no justice for the ones who are in love', simple yet worth pondering. 'I Know' (above) is another great single from Mind Out Wandering that ticks all of the right boxes, soulful and with a deliciously bluesy guitar riff in tow, like a disassembled version of the Bee Gees 'Nights on Broadway', slowed down and minus the razzmatazz it's a definite highlight on the album.

The tempo lifts once again on 'Eye to Eye', there are strong disco and funk feels here across all instruments, keys, guitar and drums as well as Ferraro's quick fire lyrics. 'Shake It Loose' shares some of it's DNA with Toro Y Moi soundz but also a bit of Unknown Mortal Orchestra, this is a classic example of how Astronauts etc. create a fulsome sound without over-complicating things and resorting to too many instruments or gimmicks. 'Control' is very much in the mould of the 70's song-writing of Elton John and Billy Joel, 'Don't get caught in my riddles, I can't handle my end of the mazes that keep me from wandering further, I'm more interested in how you fit it together', poignantly the track appears towards the end of the album and feels like the beginning of a release from the troubling personal topics dealt with up to this point.

Astronauts, etc. - Eye To Eye

'See You' is a lovely piece of escapism, echoed guitars and rolling riffs creating a tranquil landscape to disappear into, I was struck from the outset that this one is prime for remixing. 'Upward Swing' is a delightfully happy, carefree jam, masking a fear of a love that is so precious it is delicate, and could shatter at the slightest mishandling, being free of this all-consuming fear and trying to just be happy in the moment, it closes 'Oh hallelujah to her morning pose. What could there be in her that I can know?', a suitable closing line to the album.

Mind Out Wandering feels special, hard to grasp at first, you have a feeling you are witnessing something that will echo in music for quite some time to come. While the music is for the most part light-hearted and uplifting, the themes and stories the songs tell are far from it, but this is part of what makes Mind Out Wandering unique, the general conclusion of 'everything works out just fine in the end' doesn't apply, an awareness of wanting to be in that space, but being held back or approaching it too cautiously is underlined. Ferraro also visits somewhat unexpected genres while branding them all entirely with his own mark, it's like a sad and beautiful disco, and it works 110%.

You can buy Mind Out Wandering on vinyl, CD or digital download here.

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